40Under40: Forty of the region’s best and brightest under 40
This highly anticipated compendium recognizes individuals in Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Benzie and Kalkaska counties under the age of 40 whose professional and community efforts during this past year had the most impact on their community, the region and the economy.
The 2020 class is comprised of 21 women and 20 men (two brothers from the same company count as one). While there are many multi-year recipients, the class includes 20 new faces from a wide range of sectors. Who inspires these rising stars professionally, what is their next big thing and what unexpected factoid are they willing to share about themselves?
A panel of judges reviewed the submissions and chose the 40 influencers out of 100-plus nominations from the community. The panel included K.K. Trucco, vice president of recruiting for Hagerty; Benjamin Marentette, Traverse City clerk and past 40Under40 recipient; Warren Call, president/CEO of Traverse Connect; Luke Haase, publisher of the TCBN, Northern Express and The Ticker; Lynda Wheatley, executive editor of the Northern Express; and Gayle Neu, contributing editor of the TCBN.
Watch for 2021 nomination information in the TCBN and The Ticker starting next spring.
Max Anderson, 34
Assistant Vice President, Commercial Lender, Honor Bank
Volunteerism/leadership: Father Fred; Cherry Festival; Boy Scouts of America; Village of Kingsley DDA, Brownfield Development Authority and Zoning Board of Appeals; Paradise Township Planning Commission; Rotary Club of Traverse City; East Bay Masonic Lodge #264
2019 highlight: Being promoted to commercial lender for Honor Bank.
Local inspiration: Mike Meindertsma. Mike is constantly smiling and every time you see him, you can’t help but do the same. He’s deeply involved in our community and not because it looks great on a resume: He genuinely cares. Mike has been a good friend and mentor to me in many things. He inspires me to stay involved and continually sets a great example for what every citizen in a thriving community should be. He is what I want to be when I grow up!
What’s next: In the Village of Kingsley, we are working closely with Traverse Connect, the MEDC, and community stakeholders to help fill our industrial park and make sweeping improvements to our downtown business district. Big things are happening in Kingsley.
Who knew: I’ve always wanted to be a professional organizer. I don’t mean community organizing – I mean having people hire me to help declutter and organize their homes and offices. Sort of a cross between Marie Kondo and Matt Paxton.
Vice President of Sales, Top O’ Michigan Solutions
Volunteerism/leadership: TC Community Quest, president; The Carl A. Lemcool Memorial Foundation, president; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan, big brother; Safe Harbor, host volunteer
2019 highlight: The growth and expansion of our Top O’ Michigan Spire Insurance Solutions team. I am proud of what our team has accomplished to earn Keystone Partner of the Year and agency of the month honors in Rough Notes Magazine. These honors are a testament to the team’s dedication to our clients, our insurance companies and the communities we serve.
Local inspiration: Entrepreneurs in general. Our community is overflowing with the entrepreneurial spirit. I have the opportunity to work with so many business owners that have taken the risk to pursue their dreams and be their own bosses. Not only does working with them mean I am able to learn from leaders in the community, but I also share the same excitement for business as they do. Each individual story of challenges and success motivates me daily.
What’s next: I am excited to continue expanding our footprint with our ninth location (Top O’ Michigan) opening later in the year as well as the growth of our national brand (Spire Insurance Solutions). Part of our mission is to share and give back to the communities we serve. This expansion allows us to serve more clients and ultimately make a larger impact in more communities with our We Care program.
Who knew: Away from work, I love seeing live music. I’ve seen my favorite band, Greensky Bluegrass, over 100 times. Music is a driving force and fits every situation life throws at you.
Tyler Bevier, 28
Transportation Planner, BATA
Volunteerism/leadership: Traverse Heights Neighborhood, president; Traverse City Planning Commission; City of Traverse City Active Transportation Committee; Friends of the Traverse Area District Library; Traverse Area Association of Realtors, community representative for 2020; Traverse Connect Government Relations Committee
2019 highlight: Successful COVID-19 communication to the public and riders about maintaining a safe riding environment through the pandemic for our essential workers and riders. Creating a two- to three-year capital plan for transit stop improvements. This plan outlines capital projects and funding for new benches, shelters, lighting, ADA pads, etc. to continue to improve the boarding and riding experience on BATA.
Local inspiration: City of Traverse City Manager Marty Colburn. I honestly don’t know when our city manager finds time for rest. He is always at the helm day and night making our city a better place to live and thrive. He always finds a way to create a collaborative and productive setting with area leadership to continue to move our region forward.
What’s next: I hope to launch another 15-minute frequency route from BATA in the next year or two. This would be in addition to our Bayline route, which currently runs every 15 minutes, 7am-11pm daily.
Who knew: The game SimCity is what started my interest in urban/transportation planning growing up.
B.J. Brick, 37
Managing Director/Owner, RE/MAX Bayshore
Volunteerism/leadership: BrickWays Foundation, executive board
2019 highlight: The team at RE/MAX Bayshore and Brick & Corbett have accomplished a lot to be proud of over the last 12 months, but I believe two accomplishments are especially worth mentioning. First, we implemented the ‘Client for Life Program.’ In partnership with many of the region’s retailers and restaurants, we are coordinating nearly 3,000 pieces of mail, gifts and experiences every month for our clients. Second, we started our brokerage’s vacation rental arm, Bayshore Vacation Rentals. We currently have 30 homes under management and are excited to see that number grow.
Local inspiration: My business partner Tommy Corbett has been a great inspiration over the last two years. When partnership conversations were in their infancy, I would never have expected that two years later we would have made as much progress as we have. He is a rare leader that gets into the weeds and finds solutions. He is constantly trying to improve our systems and efficiencies. His efforts have allowed us to focus on growing the business versus continuing to live in it. He inspires all of us at RE/MAX Bayshore and Brick & Corbett to be our best.
Who knew: I have a bachelor’s degree in fine art and graphic design from Miami of Ohio. My first (and last) paying art gig was using a four-inch brush to paint 100-foot-long team and sponsorship logos on the field grass for Super 14 Rugby in New Zealand.
“What can I say about B.J. Brick in 100 words or less? Well, that’s like trying to describe to someone the difference between fission and fusion in a soundbite. All three are part of the big bang theory. All are stellar. B.J. is the real deal: great son, brother, husband, father, uncle, friend, partner, teammate, leader of others. He is courageous, passionate, committed, and kind.” – Bob Brick, owner and broker, RE/MAX Bayshore and Brick & Corbett
Steve Bulger, 38
Chief Operating Officer, eFulfillment Service
Volunteerism/leadership: Great Lakes Children’s Museum, board of directors; Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes, board of directors
2019 highlight: We have made it a focus to step up our internal communication and collaboration and organized our first corporate retreat earlier this year. The goal of these events is to have every area of our company represented, to discuss both short-term and longer-term plans and to build our skills in specific areas. The feedback from our initial retreat was incredible and we plan to make it a regular event, with our second planned for this September.
Local inspiration: Matt Bulloch, CEO and president of TentCraft. I am impressed with how he’s grown TentCraft over the years and by the focus on their core commitments, including LEAN manufacturing principles. I’m also impressed with how quickly they were able to pivot soon after the pandemic hit, with the creation of new products that better aligned with tent needs at that time. Our companies have a lot of similarities and he’s great to collaborate with.
What’s next: eFulfillment Service is planning to expand to new areas of the country to help better serve our clients and their end customers. This will be a multi-year endeavor with some big challenges and it’s something that we are all committed to.
“I have the great pleasure and the privilege of working with Steve every day. As a leader, he’s inspiring, organized, clever, knowledgeable and compassionate. He’s optimistic and has a great sense of humor. I go to him for advice and perspective when I have to make hard decisions or set strategy – and he is a good friend and golfing partner, too.” – Jordan Lindberg, executive vice president, eFulfillment Service
Jessica Carland, 39
Mobility Manager, Benzie Bus
Volunteerism/leadership: Grow Benzie board of directors; BEST Benzie
2019 highlight: Graduated from the Rotary Charities’ Leadership Learning Lab; partnered with community libraries to launch a Read and Ride service last summer to provide free rides for students to any Benzie County library.
Local inspiration: Josh Stoltz, director of Grow Benzie, has endless energy and true passion for this community. He truly is inspiring.
What’s next: I’m working on a new on-demand medical transportation service for Benzie County. The pandemic has caused us to suspend the project for now, but I look forward to moving full steam ahead once it’s safe to do so.
Who knew: As a graduate student in Western Australia, I traveled to Sydney and climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
Nate Crane, 37
Business Owner, Rare Bird Brewpub, Jacob’s Farm, Launch Family Entertainment Park (Grand Rapids)
Volunteerism/leadership: Michigan Audubon, coordinator and compiler of the Lake Leelanau Christmas Bird Count; Leelanau Land Conservancy, spring and fall bird migration banding surveys at Chippewa Run Natural Area; Grand Traverse Land Conservancy, bird species surveys and educational outreach
2019 highlight: Opening Launch Family Entertainment Park in Grand Rapids was my proudest moment and it turned very scary when COVID-19 struck. We were open 28 days before deciding to close due to the pandemic. The executive order came a few days later and since then, we have just been waiting to see when reopening seems appropriate. That probably won’t be until there is a vaccine.
Local inspiration: Dave Denison of Amical. He built a Traverse City institution that has stood the test of time and made downtown Traverse City a better place. I hope I can have a legacy like that.
What’s next: Opening Jacob’s Farm in fall 2020. It’s located at the Witkop Centennial Farm with Jacob’s Corn Maze and U-pick fruit. We’ve restored the 128-year-old barn into an event space with a bar in the lower part. There’s an expansive covered seating area and lots of lawn space. An adjacent building has a commercial kitchen that will provide everything from pizzas and salads to caramel apples and doughnuts. There’s also a 400-person capacity tented wedding site on the back meadow. This project is over two years in the making and we can’t wait to open!
Who knew: Although I love business, my first passion will always be ornithology, the study of birds. I’ve been a serious birder since the age of 10.
Lindsey Dickinson, 38
Director of Academic and Career Advising, Northwestern Michigan College
Volunteerism/leadership: Traverse Bay Sunrise Rotary; Rotary Youth Exchange; International Affairs Forum board; Academic WorldQuest; NMC Be What’s Possible Comprehensive Campaign Team
2019 highlight: As we formally launched the Academic & Career Advising Center at NMC, we strategically partnered with Networks Northwest/Northwest Michigan Works! to bring an employment readiness specialist on board. The partnership offers our students a full spectrum of career services – from help finding a best-fit career pathway to becoming employment-ready with soft skills, resume and cover letter assistance, interview skills and job search help. We’ve upped our internal marketing game on campus, so students are aware that we’re here to help them all the way through their career and academic journey at NMC.
Local inspiration: Our local educators. We’ve seen so many heroes step up and stand strong this year. Any parent with school-aged kids can tell you, however, that appreciation for the hard work that teachers do has never been greater. I see it in the countless Google Classroom and Zoom meetings they’ve conducted (while caring for their own children) and in the many hours of preparation throughout the summer for the coming school year. Our local K-12 and college faculty are heroic.
What’s next: Living my values in all parts of my life. I’m thinking hard and taking action on the things I can control and influence. For me, this means having productive (and sometimes tough) conversations with family, friends and neighbors; amplifying the voices of others; talking to my kids about who they are in this world; and reflecting on who I am and how I move through life.
Who knew: Before boomeranging back to Traverse City, my husband and I lived in London, England where I worked for a small nonprofit called Childnet International. I traveled the U.K. educating kids, teachers, parents and policymakers about staying safe in an online environment.
Hannah Driver, 33
Traverse House Clubhouse Director, Northern Lakes Community Mental Health
Volunteerism/leadership: Clubhouse Michigan Training Committee; Licensed Professional Counselors of Northern Michigan; Northwest Food Coalition
2019 highlight: The Traverse House Clubhouse served over 100 adults with mental illness last year. We assisted over 20 members with gaining meaningful employment, hosted three employment celebrations with local employers, and helped members in their career goals by offering scholarships toward grant writing, nursing, art, and creative writing classes. Members and staff rallied for Mental Health Awareness Week at the capitol in Lansing and met with our senators and representatives to promote advocacy. We traveled to Norway for the Clubhouse International Conference and learned about mental health systems and Clubhouses from around the world. Over the past four months, while our physical space has been closed, we have continued to deliver food to our members, staying connected through outreach calls, and offering support with employment and education.
Local inspiration: Ryan Hannon from Goodwill Street Outreach, because he is compassionate, client-centered and solution-focused in his approach to ending homelessness in our community. Ryan has worked for many years helping people in our community address addiction issues and mental health challenges by connecting them to resources and options for stable housing.
What’s next: In today’s world, Clubhouses are challenged to think outside the box and extend our services to members who are unable to visit the physical building. We are working to develop and sustain remote work for our members, while continuing to build relationships and stay connected. Our goal for a Hybrid Clubhouse will include creative virtual opportunities and onsite work for some with a focus of decreasing isolation and promoting wellness.
“In my work with Clubhouse International, I work closely with directors from more than 300 Clubhouses around the world and I find Hannah to be exceptional. She is a natural collaborator who ensures that Clubhouse members (adults with mental illness) are central to the decisions and operations of the program. Her relationship skills make her a respected employee, supervisor and community partner. She has also taken on a leadership role within the statewide Clubhouse coalition which led to an invitation to present at the 2019 Clubhouse International World Seminar held in Oslo, Norway.” – Lee Kellogg, program officer, Clubhouse International
Susan Fisher, 34
Managing Director, Traverse City Film Festival, State Theatre & Bijou by the Bay
Volunteerism/leadership: Traverse City Film Festival, State Theatre & Bijou by the Bay; Downtown Traverse City Association, president; Up North Pride; Old Town Playhouse
2019 highlight: I’ve been glad to be able to lend my additional free time and long-time acquired set of strange skills to help out during a time I would normally be extremely busy. With no festival this year, heading up a food drive, volunteering with the new reality of the Farmer’s Market, helping organize the painting of Front Street and planning events in a post-pandemic world, I’m proud to have been able to stretch myself further than before.
Local inspiration: It’s hard to narrow down one person, since I’m inspired by so many voices in Traverse City, especially everyone who has stood up for human rights and the health of our community. The real leaders are those who use their voices to lift others up. An example would be the incomparable Nick Viox, who works tirelessly for countless organizations and is one of my favorite project collaborators.
What’s next: Now that we’re all in a brave new world, everything I had thought was happening and/or had planned in the next year is out the window. So, the next new idea is one that’s bubbling just below the surface, ready to deliver something creative we can do together in this new normal. We can all take this time to listen to and stand up with our friends in the community. And don’t forget: Arrest the cops that killed Breonna Taylor.
“Susan is an exemplary community leader; someone I’ve always looked up to as a professional. She always demonstrates a moral compass and is available to lend a hand for causes or community endeavors. She is always giving back, whether to the arts, the merchant community or the community at large.” – Nick Viox, downtown experience coordinator, Traverse City DDA
Thomas Graber, 30
Senior Program Director, Grand Traverse Bay YMCA
Volunteerism/leadership: Camps Convening through Rotary (a group of northern Michigan camp directors who meet to share resources, talk about trends/things to look out for, review licensing changes), Grand Traverse County Master Site Planning Focus Group (Civic Center)
2019 highlight: My proudest moment over the past 12 months has been putting together our camp program during this pandemic. There was very little turn-around time to pull things together when the restrictions came out. We knew this was vitally important to our community, so we stayed committed and pulled it together in time for our camp families. This was so important for the kids so they could have that social interaction, as well as enabling their parents to go back to work. According to our licensing consultant, only 20 of his 62 camps are operational this summer. A second major accomplishment over the last 12 months has been restructuring and developing my core leadership staff. These leaders have grown and developed tremendously and are continually taking on more responsibilities.
Local inspiration: Ginny Bilacic (CFO at the YMCA). Ginny is my go-to person. If I ever need guidance or direction, she is the first person I contact. She has a very calming presence and is a great leader. Ginny is a jack-of-all-trades and always puts the Y and this community first. I have learned so much from her over the past five-plus years that we have worked together.
What’s next: Continuing to grow our Youth Sports Programming during this pandemic. The Y’s youth sports programs have grown exponentially over the past 3-4 years, showing a need and demand in the community. We are looking forward to the challenge of making these signature programs as safe as possible. We are hopeful to continue to grow and engage with the youth in our community through our sports programming.
Who knew: I am a new dad to a beautiful four-month-old girl name Teagan. She is such a ball of joy that brings so much happiness to my wife Jenny and me.
Craig Hadley, 36
Executive Director and Chief Curator, Dennos Museum Center
Volunteerism/leadership: American Alliance of Museums; Association of Academic Museums & Galleries; International Affairs Forum
The opportunity to move to beautiful Traverse City last summer and lead one of the best community college museums in the United States.
Local inspiration: Northwestern Michigan College’s President Nick Nissley’s leadership has inspired all of us to rethink the fundamental role of museums and cultural institutions amidst the global health crisis. His thoughtful engagement and encouragement have energized our staff to reimagine the 21st century museum as we explore new modes of programming, education, and engagement.
What’s next: I’m in the process of completing a nonprofit leadership certificate from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and should finish the program by 2022. It’s been a terrific networking and professional development experience.
Who knew: My mother’s family is Japanese-American and immigrated to Hawaii in the early 20th century. My dad’s family is predominantly Western European and settled in rural Iowa as farmers. So, my worldview and curatorial approach is significantly colored by my biracial identity, as evidenced by my love of both meatloaf and mashed potatoes as well as okonomiyaki and manapua.
“I was enthusiastic about Craig from the first time I met him. He is well prepared and well connected in the museum world to take the Dennos to new heights despite the setback of COVID, working with the outstanding staff that was there upon his arrival.” – Gene Jenneman, executive director emeritus, Dennos Museum Center
Ashley Halladay-Schmandt, 34
Director, Northwest Michigan Coalition to End Homelessness
Volunteerism/leadership: Michigan Balance of State Governance Council and committee chair; Michigan State Homeless Policy Council
2019 highlight: The moment I was most proud of was when our team fully leased out all 14 dedicated units for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness at East Bay Flats. This partnership with the Traverse City Housing Commission was a truly collaborative and innovative solution toward ending youth homelessness. The staff throughout the coalition came together in a really authentic way to serve some of the most vulnerable young people in our community. This work is difficult – it’s not perfect – and the East Bay Flats project made me so proud to be part of a group of dedicated people who all have remarkable intentions and who all work tirelessly toward the goal of helping people get off the street and into housing.
Local inspiration: Ryan Hannon, outreach and housing navigation manager at Goodwill Industries. Ryan is an incredibly passionate advocate for people experiencing homelessness. He pushes us all to do the next best thing, planting seeds along the way to get us to where we need to be … even if we don’t want to see it at the time. He inspires me to stand up for what we are here to do: making homelessness rare, brief and one time, while never losing sight of the people we have the privilege of serving.
What’s next: My next big plan is to bring a new structure to the Northwest Michigan Coalition to End Homelessness. Although I have huge shoes to fill in taking over for Tina Allen while also expanding our staffing capacity, I know big things are in our future. We will be finding new opportunities and outlets to showcase the work of the agencies committed to the goal of ending homelessness while also moving the needle on reducing homelessness across the coalition. Our work is important and significant to every community we serve, and we plan on highlighting that work and engaging the community in new ways. Stay tuned!
Who knew: My husband and I not only kept our two young children alive and well during the Stay Home Stay Safe order while both working full time without childcare, but we only had ONE argument! And it was about a Zoom call. Lowering the bar for couple goals 2020?
Lauren Harris, 35
Senior Sales Executive, Priority Health
Volunteerism/leadership: Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan, board of directors; Venture North, board of directors; Traverse Connect, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and Government Relations Committee; Impact 100 member and Family Focus grant review committee
2019 highlight: I had the honor of working with several clients in the last year and I’m very proud of what we accomplished together to enhance their employees’ benefits. In my volunteer work, COVID placed Goodwill in a critical situation when its retail stores were forced to close, and therefore revenue for their stores were forced to cease … yet the need for their programs increased. The Goodwill team and our community pulled together and brought solutions to the table. Although it was a stressful time, everyone persevered. I believe the organization is stronger than ever.
Local inspiration: Juliette Schultz, executive director of Women’s Resource Center. Juliette is an advocate for so many in our community and her sincere love for life and people impacts everything she does.
What’s next: I’m currently working with a team at Traverse Connect to develop a diversity, equity and inclusion strategy for the region. This is another exciting opportunity for Traverse Connect to … develop our region into one that continues to be attractive and welcoming to the world.
Who knew: I love playing Texas hold ’em poker.
Camille Hoisington, 35
Head of Strategic Projects, Traverse Connect
Volunteerism/leadership: TCNewTech, board member; Front Street Irregulars; 20Fathoms; CommonGrounds Engagement Committee; Traverse City Service Providers Group; several Traverse Connect committees including Creative Coast, Diversity and Inclusion, Northern Navigators, and Talent Attraction
2019 highlight: I was thrilled to join the team at Traverse Connect in December last year and I feel lucky to work with such an incredibly talented team every day. In many ways we have grown stronger since vacating our offices in March because we have had to adapt our work styles, all while being responsive to the most pressing needs of the business community during totally unforeseen circumstances. This year I got to project manage the Scale Up North Awards 2020 and launch Traverse Connect’s Creative Coast Initiative, the goal of which is to attract and retain creative and cultural talent for the Grand Traverse region.
Local inspiration: Honestly, and this probably transcends the ‘professional,’ but the person who inspires me the most is my two-year-old daughter. There’s this thing that happens when you become a parent – you suddenly have a new sense of time and your own mortality, so you start to become more efficient and productive. My daughter inspires me to get my work done leaner and smarter because I know my ‘work time’ is limited. It’s why I would always hire a new mom – because they know how to organize their time the best and function on no sleep! Another person who inspires me is Warren Call. He’s the best kind of leader in that he inspires his own team to be leaders themselves. He always places trust in me and the rest of our team to get the job done, and to do it well. He naturally inspires creativity and responsibility.
What’s next: I’m most excited for the launch of the Creative Coast website and Northern Navigators program which will go live this fall. The Creative Coast website is Traverse Connect’s initiative to attract talent to the Grand Traverse Region. The Northern Navigators program will connect newcomers with locals to help them navigate the region’s career opportunities, lifestyle, recreation activities, housing, childcare, etc. My family and I moved to Traverse City from Brooklyn almost two years ago and I am excited to encourage others to make the move here and ease that transition for them.
Who knew: I was born and raised in Ireland and studied geography at Trinity College Dublin. I had a fascination with maps and used to wonder at the vastness of the Great Lakes and what they must look like in real life. I moved to New York City a decade ago on a 12-month visa, not anticipating that I’d end up staying in the U.S. Ten years later I’m living in northern Michigan and I get to marvel at the wonder of a Great Lake on a daily basis.
Nicholus Kopacki, 38
Site Director/Assistant Program Director, Grand Valley State University, Traverse City campus
Volunteerism/leadership: Grand Valley State University; Munson Medical Center; NMC Pre-PA Society; Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants; American Academy of Physician Assistants; Physician Assistant Education Association
2019 highlight: This year, our GVSU physician assistant program’s Traverse City campus was humbled and honored to receive two prestigious national awards by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. The first was most outstanding credit program in the central region and the second was most outstanding program in the nation. We are proud to serve the northern Michigan community and are dedicated to delivering the highest level of medical education to the students who will eventually practice medicine in our communities.
Local inspiration: It’s hard to say that I have just one person that inspires me. My family inspires me every day to be the best version of myself. There are countless medical professionals both locally and otherwise who inspire me to be an advocate for the physician assistant profession and all medical professions. If I had to pick one individual that has inspired me, I would choose my cousin Brynn Givens. She was recently promoted to director of environmental services at Munson Medical Center. As the EVS director she has been instrumental during this time of COVID-19 in stopping the spread of the virus in the hospital and keeping all the employees in the hospital safe. She is one of the hardest working individuals I know, and I could not be more proud of what she has accomplished.
What’s next: I am currently finishing up a doctorate of medical science degree specializing in healthcare administration. Upon completion I am hoping to pursue a master’s in business administration. My goal is to use my education to advance students’ knowledge in the administrative and business aspects of the PA profession as well as grow the PA profession administratively. Additionally, I have been invited to speak at statewide conferences on a variety of medical topics and hope to expand this to national conferences in the upcoming year.
Who knew: I was a local DJ in the Traverse City area and was once voted best DJ in northern Michigan.
Nick Loud, 31 and Chris Loud, 36
Co-founders, The Boardman Review
Volunteerism/leadership: Traverse Connect; Leelanau Conservancy; Michigan Legacy Art Park; Mission Point Press; Glen Arbor Sun; Traverse Magazine
2019 highlight: Over the past year, we helped produce our first narrative feature film (called ‘Quicksand’) alongside director JohnPaul Morris of Practical Films and an amazing northern Michigan crew. It was a nice career milestone, but more importantly, the project melded a group of young northern Michigan creatives into a fully capable film production crew with the necessary chemistry and trust to build upon for future projects.
Local inspiration: While not in our field, Little Fleet owners Allison and Gary Jonas, along with the Loma Farm owners Sara and Nic Theisen, have created something in their new joint venture, Farm Club, that distinctly manifests their vision and passion. It satisfies a craving for forward thinking within their industry locally (and beyond) while still reflecting the core of our region and not trying to reinvent it. Farm Club sets the standard for following a passion and an idea through to the last detail. Seeing people do this kind of thing in other industries motivates us to attempt the same in ours.
What’s next: We’re in the process of expanding the production of our print issues for The Boardman Review, so we can put more northern Michigan stories in more northern Michigan towns, at all corners of the region. We hope to hit our largest production yet in summer 2020 to fall 2020, and when we’re able, we hope to get back to our live release events with a big year-in-review celebration.
Who knew: We’re brothers and we went to the same college (Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio) but NOT the same high school.
John R. Lutchko, 37
Marine Technology Coordinator, Captain RV Northwestern, Northwestern Michigan College
Volunteerism/leadership: The Hydrographic Society of America; Marine Technology Society; Lake Leelanau Lake Association
2019 highlight: In August of 2019, I traveled with two others from NMC to Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. There, we supported the National Park Service (NPS) by deploying one of NMC’s remotely operated underwater vehicles to ground-truth numerous sites around the park where NPS had collected bathymetric data. This research was integral to understanding the bottom-types around the park and identifying spawning grounds of native fish species. Supporting this important project provided me and my team – which included an NMC student in the Marine Technology program – a truly unique experience at one of the most stunning places on Earth.
Local inspiration: Hans VanSumeren, director of the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute at NMC. It was Hans’s vision, expertise and industry network that allowed for the formation of the Marine Technology program at NMC. The program’s growth and continued success is a testament to his hard work and dedication. It was Hans who gave me my first opportunity at NMC as a student worker, and he was my most vocal champion when it came to bringing me on full-time at the college. Hans is my boss, yes, but more importantly, he is my mentor, my role model and a close friend.
Who knew: Over two separate trips in 2018 and 2019, I spent nearly two months in China delivering NMC’s Marine Technology curriculum to 80 students at a technical school in Kaifeng, Henan.
“Working with John for the past eight years, I have seen him continually grow professionally and carve out a recognized presence in the marine technology community at a national level. He has built a large network and has been able to successfully capitalize on these relationships for the direct benefit of NMC programs and students. Last year, John was able to secure over $330,000 in software licenses at no cost from a single company. He is highly versatile and is the one person you want to work with in any situation.” – Hans VanSumeren, Great Lakes Water Studies Institute director, NMC
Dan Mays, 38
Inland Policy Biologist, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
Volunteerism/leadership: Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative; FISHPASS Science Team; Lake Leelanau Lake Stewardship Committee; Inland Seas Education Association; Piping Plover Recovery Team; Michigan Wild Rice Initiative; Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy; The Watershed Center of Grand Traverse Bay
2019 highlight: I came into this new position in 2019 and was able to both effectively continue the positive work that my predecessors accomplished and transition my previous achievements into a stronger program. In a year’s time I was able to secure funding through three separate grants to support initiatives that will benefit area native fish and wildlife. I am very proud of my team and how we have worked together to continue to support tribal membership and to protect and enhance the natural resources for future generations.
Local inspiration: I have the privilege to work with two individuals – Brett Fessell and Erik Olsen – both having a great deal of experience and expertise. They have shared with me their wisdom, encouragement and sound judgment. Their solid leadership, hard work ethic, humbleness and sense of humor is a force to reckon with.
What’s next: Among a growing list of environmental projects, we are in the midst of returning the extirpated native Grayling back to Michigan streams – and specifically the Boardman River – which we have slated for thorough scientific investigations in the coming years. Also, with recently awarded funding, my team and I are working diligently with Lake Leelanau Lake Association to control Eurasian watermilfoil in Lake Leelanau. In addition, as interest for protecting species native to Michigan grows, my team and I are continuing to educate youth though the expansion of our Nme (Sturgeon) in the Classroom program. We anticipate having four new area schools raise Lake Sturgeon and facilitate hands-on curriculum learning, including Ishkakimikwe Kinoomaagewinan (Mother Earth lessons) and tribal cultural significance.
Who knew: I have probably held over 10,000 fish (rough estimate) over the years and counting.
Ming Mays, 39
Information Technology Director, TBA Credit Union
Volunteerism/leadership: Information System Security Association International/ISSA of Traverse City; Impact100 Traverse City; Michigan Government Management Information Sciences, Mi-GMIS session committee; Grand Traverse County Wellness Team
2019 highlight: Last November, I was very honored to be hired by TBA Credit Union as the information technology director. I was able to establish an IT strategic plan and quickly move numerous projects forward. My team and I were able to carry out multiple major projects and embrace the vision of enhancing technology for increased internal efficiency and electronic access to improve member experience.
Local inspiration: Karen Browne, CEO of TBA Credit Union. I am incredibly fortunate to have a leader, coach and mentor like Karen. She has a comprehensive business and financial knowledge base and makes a big impact with our community involvement. Her impressive skills have led to significant leadership roles and strategic thinking in the credit unions realm.
What’s next: I will be mainly focused on increasing member and internal satisfaction through improved responsiveness, efficiency and effectiveness of TBA Credit Union service. I plan to accomplish this by utilizing technology to bring TBACU to the next level of excellence, as well as delivering quality and innovative solutions to members and staff.
Who knew: Growing up in a big city, space was an issue so I never had a bike. It wasn’t until I was 13 years old that I learned how to ride.
Christopher D. Mazzola, D.D.S., 37
Partner, Traverse Dental Associates
Volunteerism/leadership: Big Brothers Big Sisters; Grand Traverse Region Pankey Study Group, mentor; American Dental Association; Michigan Dental Association; Resort District Dental Society; The Pankey Institute
2019 highlight: Surpassing $150,000 in gifted dentistry through the Michigan Dental Association’s Donated Dental Services Program. Through this program, dentists in Michigan have provided more than $23 million in gifted services since 1995. Equally important was the invitation to become a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute, an educational facility that equips dentists with the behavioral, clinical and financial knowledge they need to be successful.
Local inspiration: I am deeply inspired by the past and present doctors of Traverse Dental Associates. Dr. Charles Kelly and his sons Drs. Kevin and Pat Kelly, and Dr. David Swan have dedicated themselves to the community over the past 50 years. The relationships that they have built and their commitment to dental excellence have created a legacy that I strive to live up to.
What’s next: Currently I am working toward the Pankey scholar designation, an intensive two-year, 250-hour program. Through this course dentists practice cutting-edge treatment while focusing on relationship-based care. Upon completion in October I will be one of only 60 doctors to have completed the program nationally.
“Chris epitomizes the idea of having a growth mindset. He is always trying to become a better leader, a better dentist and a better person by continually learning and asking for feedback to improve. Whether he is leading a dental study group or investing in professional development for his employees, Chris wants everyone to strive to be the best version of themselves and is happy to play a part in making that happen. He is generous with his time and talent and has been recognized by Donated Dental Services for giving free dentistry to those in need.” – Michele Lurvey, leadership development consultant, We Before Me
Leah Bagdon McCallum, 38
Owner, Blue Orange Consulting
Volunteerism/leadership: Traverse City Downtown Development Authority
2019 highlight: Securing a location for the DDA’s downtown civic square was a 2020 bright spot. This public space will forever change the way people make memories in our town. It is the Open Space of our time – a place where we will gather, enjoy and make art, celebrate, protest and mark all kinds of occasions as a community. This vision and these thoughts are extra sweet to me while sitting in the shadow of the pandemic.
Local inspiration: Katy Bertodatto, owner of Golden Swan Management is a role model of mine. When the pandemic hit, she literally overnight pivoted her company to Frontline Housing, a new concept designed to accommodate local essential service workers. She’s leading an effort to help the City Opera House grow and thrive. I look up to her as a business owner, mother, civic leader and all-around problem solver.
What’s next: My definition of ‘what’s next’ has changed because of COVID. How can it not? Personal and business travel are on hold. The needs and resources of my clients have pivoted. I’m fortunate to have three living grandparents in their 90s. My kids have three sets of loving grandparents. Existing with good health during this wacky time is the most meaningful milestone on my radar.
Who knew: My favorite COVID-related purchase has been my powder blue welding gloves. During the stay-at-home-order and now into long summer nights, I enjoy building raging bonfires. Welding gloves help me to masterfully position logs for everything from perfect marshmallow browning to maximum flame height. I’m perfecting a log rotation technique that I’m calling ‘the flaming lotus.’ Stay tuned for my YouTube tutorial.
Marc S. McKellar II, 34
Attorney and Partner, Kuhn Rogers, PLC
Volunteerism/leadership: Adams Chapter of Trout Unlimited; Brook Trout Coalition; Kingsley Community Fund; Kingsley Adams Fly Festival; Kingsley Friends of the Library; Kingsley Downtown Development Authority; Kingsley Brownfield Redevelopment Authority
2019 highlight: Being named partner at Kuhn Rogers, PLC.
Local inspiration: Joe Quandt, partner at Kuhn Rogers, PLC. Joe hired me as a student in law school and kept me on when I graduated and passed the bar. Joe is respected by his peers, clients, friends and family. He is the best attorney I have come in contact with and more importantly, he is a good man. He embodies the whole package of the attorney and person I strive to be – one that is ethical, pragmatic and considerate.
What’s next: Continue to engage with the next generation of doers and thinkers to preserve our region’s natural beauty and inherent benefits, while also expanding its economic diversity and opportunities.
“Marc is a strong and tireless advocate for our community, bringing together his important legal work involving environmental policy, land use and business development with his passions for wildlife preservation and river restoration. Marc’s growing legal practice and dedicated volunteer efforts have a positive impact on our natural environment, help to preserve our quality of life, and make our region more competitive for attracting the workforce of the future.” – Warren Call, president and CEO, Traverse Connect
Taylor Moore, 29
Manager, Food Rescue of Northwest Michigan
Volunteerism/leadership: Northwest Food Coalition; Career Tech Center AgriScience and Natural Resources Advisory Council; MSU Extension Advisory Council; Rotary Charities Systems Change Community of Practice; Title Track Anti-Oppression & Cultural Healing Community of Practice; Glen Lake Yacht Club
2019 highlight: Being a part of the system meeting food needs in our community during COVID-19. Our network of support is a tribute to the hard work of relationship building, expressing gratitude and humility, and building a vision that we’re stronger together. Because of these factors, we’ve been able to respond collectively in a way that is sustainable.
Local inspiration: Courtney Wiggins, Holly T. Bird, Marshall Collins, Breana Demaray, Cyrus Ghaemi, Bea Cruz, Betsy Coffia, Elizabeth Wolff, and Victoria Craig are among the many Black, Indigenous, POC, LGBTQ+, women, and mothers who inspire me. In face of incessant injustice, threatened with violence, and compromised by a pandemic, they have stood up, spoken out, and risked their professional reputations to do so. They have shown me that I must prioritize justice, peace and humanity like it is my profession.
What’s next: Advocating for a living wage and decision-making power for local nonprofit employees. Nonprofit workers provide essential services to our most marginalized neighbors. If we as a community want to ensure sustained care for children who are abused, bullied and hungry; elders who are immobile, sick and isolated; adults who are experiencing homelessness, addiction and depression, then we must ensure that those frontline workers have the resources they need and have a voice in boardroom and community decisions.
Who knew: I decided to run the Boston Marathon the night before the race with two other friends. I had been up all night finishing an exam. I ran the race in 4:40 and couldn’t walk for the next three days.
Ben Nelson, 39
Managing Director, Electro-Optics GmbH and VP of Global Operations, Electro-Optics Technology USA
Volunteerism/leadership: Grand Traverse Industrial Council; Advisor for the Midwest Photonics Education Center; Front Street Irregulars, member; TCNewTech, member; occasional coach, TCAPS’ LEAP sports programs and TBAYS soccer
2019 highlight: Our company acquired a German laser crystal growth company in the city of Idar-Oberstein, Germany. I spent the better part of last year helping to turn it around, make it profitable, and was responsible for that business unit. It was a research institute for many years and needed to start evolving into a vertically integrated production facility. This proved to be an awarding experience both personally and professionally.
Local inspiration: My grandfather first comes to mind. He was a local boat captain for many years. He has since passed. At a young age he made me appreciate a strong work ethic. He was simple, conservative and very common sense-driven, traits which I try to use in my life.
What’s next: Continuing to help grow our two companies and identifying sustainable and more protected markets for our companies to operate in. It is more important than ever for manufacturers to not find themselves in markets that end up being commoditized quickly. We need to innovate and be able to source or produce product within the U.S. I think this got away from us over the years. We are going to make greater strides on supporting the defense markets both in the U.S. and Europe.
Who knew: My first international business trip was to Moscow. I found they preferred tequila over vodka.
Rochelle Nevedal, 35
Owner, Quirky Crate & Quirky HQ
Volunteerism/leadership: Kalkaska Downtown Development Authority, board member; Kalkaska Farmers Market, chairperson; Small Town Roller Derby, co-founder and board member
2019 highlight: The proudest moment of the last 12 months was when my monthly subscription box, Quirky Crate, was voted USA Today’s Readers’ Choice Number 1 Lifestyle Subscription Box of 2020. This year, I also got involved with the Kalkaska DDA. It’s been very rewarding to serve my community, and even if I only play a small role, I am very proud to be a part of the growth and positive changes that are happening in Kalkaska.
Local inspiration: Our Kalkaska village president, Harley Wales. Harley has accomplished so much in so little time for the Village of Kalkaska. There are so many exciting projects happening within our town and he has been leading the way each step. He is full of forward-thinking ideas and also demonstrates the ability to bring them into fruition – something I strive to emulate in my own professional life as well.
What’s next: I would love to expand my brand and design/create a wholesale line of quirky greeting cards, stationery, enamel pins and accessories. Another dream of mine is to start a quirky vending machine business and have my own brand of vending machines, filled with unique and fun items, placed around northern Michigan.
Who knew: My husband and I are ‘90s kids and we love the 1990s so much so that we flew in Lori Beth Denburg (from Nickelodeon’s “All That”) to officiate our wedding ceremony.
Maureen Oleson, 38
Executive Director of Guest Services, Interlochen Center for the Arts
Volunteerism/leadership: Addiction Treatment Services, president, board of directors; Rotary Club of Traverse City; Interlochen Center for the Arts, volunteer
2019 highlight: Last year I was tasked with commercial concert operations from working with a consulting firm to book guest artists to the experience our patrons would have on campus. Ultimately, we were not able to host commercial concerts, but I learned a lot about the concert booking industry and am excited to improve upon and implement some new strategies next summer that my team and I had developed.
Local inspiration: The staff at Addiction Treatment Services. The recovery navigators, therapists, nurses, administrators, maintenance, access and office staff, case managers, PORCH staff … everyone. Over the past few months they have shown remarkable dedication, remained nimble and dynamic, and continued to focus on client care with grace, professionalism, and compassion. They truly are heroes.
What’s next: I have just been tasked with operationalizing and sustaining the values and vision of Interlochen through hospitality and guest services. I will oversee the Scholarshop, the Stone Hotel, the Information Booth, customer experience and commercial concerts including the box office, front of house operations and guest artist bookings.
Who knew: I used to be a sports reporter and once had a gig as a football spotter for an NBC broadcast team.
Aubrey Ann Parker, 35
Editor/co-owner of The Betsie Current newspaper; Aubrey Ann Parker Photography
Volunteerism/leadership: Head coach of Benzie Central Varsity Girls soccer team and of Benzie Central Middle School co-ed soccer team; outreach coordinator for the Benzie Community Water Council, which has put on the Benzie County Water Festival for the past decade; co-organizer of the Betsie Bay Frozen 5K; trustee for Frankfort-Elberta Area School board since 2017; social media advisor for Kilwins of Frankfort; the Benzie County Democrats; Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital; gate manager for Earthwork Harvest Gathering, a three-day music festival in Lake City.
2019 highlight: We decided late in 2019 that we thought we could get enough advertisers to expand The Betsie Current from 12 issues in a calendar year to 16. We continued to publish one issue per month in January, February and March … then the COVID-19 pandemic happened. I was seeing posts of local businesses and nonprofits that were offering various services, like food pantries, grocery deliveries, etc., but things were getting buried just as quickly as they were being posted. So, I organized a few friends and we spent about a week culling and sorting through all the info, creating an 18-page Benzie County COVID-19 resource document that was updated daily. It ended up getting more than 3,000 hits online, more than 300 shares on social media, and I secured funding from donors to print more than 1,000 hard copies that were handed out at various food pantries. We devoted our entire April and May issues to COVID-19. We told stories about some local ‘heroes,’ like people who were making masks or the school food delivery service for both Benzie and Frankfort. We created our first video and photo essays using some young, local talent and those were really well received.
Local inspiration: Josh Stoltz, executive director of Grow Benzie. Josh is my childhood friend … so I’ve always sort of looked up to him. But when I moved back to Benzie County after six years at colleges downstate, Josh was already here doing good work, everything from event production for various festivals to working with kids through the after-school SEEDS program to his current position with Grow Benzie. He wants Benzie County to become a better and more inclusive place for everyone I’ve had the good fortune to work with Josh on a number of different projects, and he’s amazing.
What’s next: The Betsie Current actually had a two-year run back in 2005-06, so if we count those years, 2021 will mark 10 years of the newspaper. We’re putting plans in place to have a celebratory 10-year issue, which we’re hoping will look more like a magazine, featuring a few new stories and lots of favorite stories from the past, since many of our features are pretty timeless. However, we made those initial plans before the pandemic hit and so it will really depend on how many ads we can sell to make something like that cost effective. In the meantime, since our COVID-19 videos were so popular, we’re hoping to be able to keep creating those visual storytelling narratives and to build our online audience.
Who knew: I have a form of synesthesia, which is essentially when two senses mix. It’s estimated that about four percent of the population experiences some form of synesthesia and there are many different types. For instance, some see colors associated with music (Duke Ellington, Billy Joel, Tori Amos, Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams, Vincent van Gogh) or each letter of the alphabet is a color. Others can taste words. Mine is like a rolling ticker tape, in which I see all of the words that I say out loud (and the words that I think in my head), as well as all of the words that other people around me are saying. It’s kind of like my life has ‘closed captioning.’ I think that this quirky thing that my brain does has actually helped lead me to where I am now. I’ve always been a good reader, speller and writer from a young age, and I think my synesthesia helps me with these tasks and makes me a good editor.
Kat Paye, 38
Executive Director, the National Cherry Festival and the Festival Foundation
Volunteerism/leadership: Rotary Club of Traverse City; Impact100 Traverse City; Michigan Festival and Events Association; International Festival and Events Association; editorial board for Michigan Meetings + Events Magazine
2019 highlight: This has been a real rollercoaster of a year for us, but it has also been completely inspiring watching our staff, board, volunteers and supporters band together to celebrate cherries in new and interesting ways. Jessica Alpers, our industry liaison board member, has been educating our followers on the local cherry industry by recording videos from her farm. We really dove into making our princes and princesses feel special through online learning, cherry-themed arts and crafts and online play sessions led by former Cherry Queen Abbey Kaufman. It was also a total joy to see how the community embraced our Porch Parade. Seeing the cherry decorations that each house put up in support of the cherry industry felt like just the happy lift that so many of us needed.
Local inspiration: Ben LaCross of Leelanau Fruit and LaCross Farms. I have always admired the grower who can weather the storm and still be so calm. Ben is an inspiration with his attitude and his desire to always lend a helping hand. I feel that over the last 12 months the entire farming industry has taught me that no matter how much you plan, mother nature – or in this case, a global pandemic – might change things.
What’s next: Right now, I’m really focused on the Festival Foundation’s new Grower’s Program, which will sustain events like the National Cherry Festival, the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge, the CherryT Ball Drop, and the Leapin’ Leprechaun 5k for many years to come.
Who knew: I am certified in balloon arch making. Yes, it’s a real thing, and yes, I have a certificate to prove it.
Tricia Phelps, 32
Chief Executive Officer, Taste the Local Difference
Volunteerism/leadership: Sara Hardy Farmers Market advisory board, chair; Bay Area Recycling for Charities, secretary
2019 highlight: Negotiating online software discounts for thousands of local food partners and providing technical assistance to over a dozen farms and farmers markets across the state for transitioning to online ordering systems during the pandemic.
Local inspiration: Attia Qureshi. She’s a passionate, strong strategic thinker. She inspires confidence in those around her and has a plan for everything. She’s giving of her time and talents through mentorship and volunteering, while also communicating her value and contributions.
What’s next: Representing the value of local food and Michigan’s agricultural industry on the national stage through collaborative research, media and content creation.
Who knew: Getting creative in the kitchen with my CSA and socially distant runs on the TART trail are what have been helping me through this pandemic. In the summer we always end a run with a jump in the water. I love the water so much I literally make checkmarks on my calendar every day I go in as one of my most important to-dos!
“Tricia Phelps embodies the mission of Taste the Local Difference. Her thoughtful, kind demeanor represents its values to our partners and the public while her creativity and leadership inspire the team to pursue success even during these times of uncertainty. She demonstrated her quick ability to adapt and innovate during the onset of COVID-19 by immediately partnering with sales platforms to bring farmers markets online, keeping customers safe and securing a venue for farmers as peak harvest seasons began. She’s also led TLD’s commitment to representing diversity in local farming by inclusion across its social media platforms and in weekly staff meetings.” – Jody Trietch, Boomerang Catapult
Christopher Radu, 37
Senior Financial Advisor and Partner, Elemint Wealth Management
Volunteerism/leadership: Old Town Playhouse, board of trustees president; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern MI, golf committee; Londolyn Shores Waterfront Association, president; Traverse City Economic Club, member; TCNewTech, sponsor and presenter; Boots for Kids, fundraiser; Traverse Area Human Resource Association (TAHRA), member; Society for Human Resource Management, member; Business Network International, member
2019 highlight: My wife and I welcomed our second son, Owen, on March 12, 2020. Having a newborn during COVID has been challenging, but together we balanced the needs of our family with the new normal of working from home. During the Michigan stay-at-home order, Elemint was able to help numerous northern Michigan businesses get informed about and qualified for PPP and SBA EIDL loans.
Local inspiration: Tony Anderson, general manager of Cherryland Electric and defender of potential for Big Brothers Big Sisters of NWMI. Tony ran 51 marathons to raise money and inspire others to support a local cause he believes in. He balances professional success and community service with grace and humility. Not even COVID could stop him from finishing his last marathon. His dedication to children is unmatched.
What’s next: Since joining TAHRA, I’ve become focused on the problems that plague small businesses. I’ve spent the last year forming strategic partnerships with other vendors in an effort to provide streamlined small business services that enhance profitability and efficiency.
Who knew: My wife, two boys and I live exactly five doors down from the house I grew up in. My family home was sold when I went to college, but five years ago we were fortunate enough to buy our home, which is just down the road. Knowing that my boys will grow up in the same neighborhood that I did has given me a profound sense of joy.
Lindsay J. Raymond, 35
Attorney Member/Co–owner, Danbrook Adams Raymond
Volunteerism/leadership: Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan, board of directors chair and board governance committee; Impact100 Traverse City, board of directors arts and culture chair; Traverse Area Human Resources Association, member
2019 highlight: This pandemic has impacted my employer clients, my business and my family in ways that I could have never anticipated. However, I am proud of my firm’s adaptability and strength to find ways to continue to serve our clients when they needed it the most. I voraciously devoured information to stay on top of the ever-evolving situation and legal requirements. I even found ways to juggle being a mom of two littles while working full-time from home. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my law partners, my family and my girls’ teachers.
Local inspiration: While working on the board of Goodwill, I have had the blessing of meeting Homer Nye and his wife, Becky, who were two of the founders of Food Rescue. They truly have servant hearts and their passion for helping others in all they do is inspiring.
What’s next: Continuing to find ways to serve my community and help to make it a better place. I also have a BFA in musical theater and am looking forward to getting more involved in community theater now that my girls are getting older.
“Lindsay’s kindness, leadership, friendship, business acumen and outgoing personality make her such a well-rounded, amazing person. The more time you spend with her, the more time you want to spend with her. The Traverse City region is lucky to have someone of her caliber in town. I’m so excited to continue to follow her success. Lindsay and I started running together last winter in the early mornings and I’ve never looked forward to getting out of bed so early as I did, knowing that I’d get to spend them with her. She makes running in negative temperatures fun!” – Allison Beers, owner, Events North
Cysilia Schaub, 23
Lead Landscape Designer, TruNorth Landscaping
2019 highlight: Finishing my apprenticeship with TruNorth through the State of Michigan, making me the first certified landscape technician in the state.
Local inspiration: Rose Eavou, my aunt, is probably my biggest inspiration professionally. Rose and I actually started our landscape career at about the same time, but we both took different routes. In high school and into college, I worked for a private community as a gardener alongside Rose. As we were working, we both had talked about what our next steps were, realizing that both of our interests lead us to landscaping – in design specifically. Rose was the first person to push me to pursue an education in landscape. While I pursued an education in all things landscape – learning things the ‘easy’ way as I saw it from textbooks and professors – Rose went on to learn things the ‘hard’ way by starting at a landscape company and working her way up from the bottom with no formal education to aid her. She had to do her own research, make her own observations and prove herself in a highly male-dominated industry with just her determination and drive to get her there.
What’s next: Continuing to build my little homestead. We have started with a greenhouse and raised beds. We are hoping to expand further in the coming years with an additional greenhouse that can be heated, and plan on starting our own veggie seedlings, annual plants and perennials. I hope to someday have enough garden space to have a roadside stand where I can make my vegetables and fruit free to whomever is in need.
Who knew: I currently have 47 houseplants (and counting) in my home or growing in my greenhouse.
Sam Simpson, 34
President, Co-owner Harbor, Hill Fruit Farms Inc., parent company of Good Harbor Vineyards and Aurora Cellars
Volunteerism/leadership: Leland Township planning commissioner; the Leelanau Children’s Center; Leelanau Peninsula Economic Foundation
2019 highlight: Launched and expanded a new mobile bottling service from our service entity Harbor Hill Fruit Farms. We’ve finished a complete rebrand of both Good Harbor Vineyards and Aurora Cellars and are in the middle of doubling our vineyard acreage, which we plan to complete spring of 2021.
Local inspiration: Larry Mawby. I have always been impressed by Larry’s ability to look at problems as opportunities and to think outside of the box. His ability to not become mentally stagnant and look to the future is one that I deeply admire.
What’s next: Within the next two to three years I would like to add another major brand and/or winery to our portfolio, ideally somewhere outside of the Grand Traverse region. However, we have a lot of projects that we have underway currently that I would really like to have the time to focus on growing.
“My business and personal relationship with Sam Simpson began in 2010. If I can describe Sam in a simple phrase, he is a man of highest integrity, always with a positive attitude and a smile. His business relationships – regardless of the subject matter – consist of respect for all parties, with honesty and fairness in all transactions. Beyond his superb business ethics over the last decade, I have come to admire Sam’s care for his entire family and his devotion to his wife and two daughters. To me, he defines the ideal individual, as a professional businessman and as a great personal friend.” – Dave Mathia, entrepreneur and former owner of DSI logistics, Traverse City
Jessica Sullivan, 39
Vice President, Strategic Ventures & Shareholder Relations, Hagerty
Volunteerism/leadership: Grand Traverse Economic Development Corporation, board chair; Traverse Connect Economic Relief Council member; GT Community Foundation Community Coalition member
2019 highlight: So happy to be involved in the Traverse Connect EDO transformation.
Local inspiration: Coco Champagne, Hagerty’s chief operating officer. She continues to lead our team through these uncharted pandemic waters with grace, and her consistent leadership and family values are top notch.
What’s next: Turning 40 in September! This is my last time on this list. I can’t thank those who have nominated me enough – so kind. For me, I’m exploring other regional organization boards at this time and I’m just enjoying every single day with my husband, four kids and our new puppy Rona.
“Jessica works at the forefront of our region’s future, serving as a key point of contact for Hagerty’s expansion plans, the development of new strategic acquisitions and partnerships. This important work and Jessica’s strong volunteer leadership across the region assures she is involved in nearly every community-wide development and policy discussion and is a significant influencer for the overall future of the Grand Traverse regional economy.” – Warren Call, president, CEO, Traverse Connect
Rebekah TenBrink, 31
Founder and Director of LIFT Teen Center
Volunteerism/leadership: LIFT Teen Center
2019 highlight: My heart is full when I look out across the Teen Center and see the teens engaged with one another, laughing, playing a game, creating art or hanging out with an amazing volunteer mentor. With the help of a great community of people, LIFT is a beautiful gathering place for youth to belong, learn, grow and become connected with who they are created to be. What started as ‘my’ idea has morphed into a community impact of generations supporting one another. As an example, this year we launched the Student Service Learning Program where the teens had a work placement in downtown Suttons Bay and worked alongside some of the local business owners, receiving invaluable work and life experiences. My professional existence hinges on community and their collaboration. It is a beautiful thing.
Local inspiration: Rachel Peplinski, owner of Lima Bean in Suttons Bay. Rachel leads with humble kindness centered in integrity. As a mentor, she exhibits the impact of having grace for others and builds on their individual strengths. To Rachel, every person is redeemable and has value.
What’s next: As a visionary, this is a loaded question as I seem to have several projects or ideas taking shape at any given point! Aside from planning programming for the uncertain year ahead, I am homing in on revitalizing the community center that LIFT currently resides in. The building needs substantial repairs and investment in functionality. As our home and the gathering place for many others in the community, I believe that the building restoration will create an even bigger impact in our community. Within this change, many other ideas seem to be metamorphosing.
“Bekah is genuine. Her enthusiasm and passion shine through everything she does, and you can’t help but be swept up into it. Soon after meeting her you’ll find yourself supporting her effort to spread encouragement and positivity to as many students as she can possibly reach. There is no doubt in my mind that she will continue to exceed every goal she sets for the LIFT program.” – Kathy Egan, regional director of community development, Networks Northwest
Jody Trietch, 37
Chief Financial Officer, Boomerang Catapult
Volunteerism/leadership: Impact100 Traverse City, president; Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan, treasurer; Yen Yoga & Fitness Advisory Council, member; Traverse City Rotary Club, member
2019 highlight: I’ve been honored to lead Impact100 Traverse City this year. In March we announced that 316 women had committed to join us in 2020. While a number of things altered how we had intended to gather and conduct our grant review process, we are today a stronger organization as a result. We’ve created new ways for our members and the public to engage with us, including ‘Finalist Friday’ sessions with prior year grant finalists. In July, we announced our five 2020 finalists with transformational initiatives in each of our focus areas. This month, our members will vote on which three of the finalists will receive grants of $105,333 each. In four short years, our collective giving organization will have awarded over $1.1 million to nonprofits serving our five-county area.
Local inspiration: Marty Oleson Watts has a reputation for connecting people and organizations with the resources they need. She earns this reputation every day through her work leading Oleson Food Stores as co-owner and assisting with the philanthropic mission of the Oleson Foundation. I met Marty at an event in the fall of 2016 when I was fearful of facing my first northern Michigan winter. Marty charmingly advised me on the winter attire I should acquire as the nights began to cool and has since become a great friend and mentor.
What’s next: At the beginning of the year, I made a resolution to read 20 books in 2020. I’m steadily making my way through Casey Cowell’s reading library at Boomerang Catapult and plan to complete my goal ahead of schedule. I’m currently reading ‘Our Towns’ by James and Deborah Fallows and highly recommend it! It’s a collection of incredible stories about how some towns in America are doing it and getting it right. This is especially important to me as I seek to support local communities and commerce between local food producers and consumers as the new owner of Taste the Local Difference.
Who knew: My February wedding at the Historic Cathedral Barn in Traverse City was the only wedding held there so far this year.
Christine Vincent, 32
Agile Product Owner and Senior Scrum Master, HealthBridge Financial
Volunteerism/leadership: 20Fathoms; tccodes
2019 highlight: Over the last year, we’ve had an amazing opportunity at HealthBridge to bring together a true Scrum engineering team in Traverse City. Our initial product offering was built by a remote team under direction of the HealthBridge leadership and the team worked in various forms of Agile to best deliver the initial product. Since launch, we have successfully transitioned from working with a fully remote team running various project management methods, to employing a diverse, co-located, and true Scrum engineering team in Traverse City. We have continued to build and regularly deliver a superior product, meet our team and company goals, and have had fun doing it!
Local inspiration: Ryan Anderson, VP of IT and software engineering at HealthBridge. He has been a mentor of mine since the first week we met, providing guidance in Agile development methodologies. He’s an entrepreneur, investor and leader who is always willing to share his experiences with others, who will open opportunities for those who want to learn and aren’t afraid of a little hard work. What inspires me the most about Ryan is that he is someone who truly works for the love of it.
What’s next: This next year has a lot in store for HealthBridge. We have clung tightly as a team during the pandemic (while remaining socially distant) and will make it out stronger. I’m looking forward to working closely with our executive team and helping lead the engineering team through enhancing our products to meet the needs of our rapid growth.
Who knew: I started my first business at the age of five with some help from my parents. It was a roadside sweet corn stand marketed as ‘Christi’s Corn.’ I made deliveries to the nearby campground, pulling my product in a Radio Flyer wagon, which I still have today.
Miriam Picó Younce, 37
Creator and Instructor, Mindful and Musical
2019 highlight: This past year was one of tremendous growth in terms of attendance to all of my classes. We surpassed the milestone of 500 families who have attended my classes and I am so grateful for all of the families who joined me week after week to sing, dance, do yoga and learn together. When the COVID-19 crisis began, I released my children’s album, a collection of 14 of my original songs. I am very proud of these songs, many of which we sing together both during in-person classes and virtual classes. I was also able to team up with a bunch of the families from my classes and create the Mindful Families Community Outreach Group, where we get together to do good in the community. My favorite memories were of the intergenerational singalongs we would do in nursing homes.
Local inspiration: I have always been inspired by the amazing Kathi Mulder of Dance of Life Midwifery. She was my midwife for my youngest two children and her empowering, authentic love and real talk was life-changing for me. She is completely herself in such an easy way that it liberates those around her to be completely themselves too. Kathi helped me believe that I am enough just the way I am, which was definitely useful as I was creating Mindful and Musical almost five years ago.
What’s next: I created a coloring book for children that accompanies my song ‘You Are Loved, Loved, Loved.’ I am so excited to release that book and also to launch virtual classes and guided meditations online.
Who knew: I was born in Aibonito, Puerto Rico and when I was brought to Michigan as a child I only spoke Spanish. I am fully bilingual and I love incorporating Spanish into my classes and making Spanish speakers feel welcome in the community.
Benjamin Yule, 33
Chief Technology Officer, Spire Health
Volunteerism/leadership: 20Fathoms; TC New Tech
2019 highlight: Just over a year ago, I made the jump and relocated from California to Traverse City in search of a higher quality of life and the goal to open a local office for Spire Health, the digital health company I helped found in San Francisco. We’ve already created multiple local high-tech jobs and are planning to scale rapidly over the coming year. Aside from that, I also lead a global team of scientists and engineers who launched the Spire Health remote patient monitoring platform this year, which has the potential to transform remote care by enabling millions of patients suffering from chronic respiratory illnesses to be monitored for changes in health without having to leave their homes.
Local inspiration: Tim Heger, CTO of HealthBridge. HealthBridge is headquartered in Grand Rapids, but Tim drove the rapid expansion of its technical team right here in Traverse City. Tim showed me that it was not only possible to grow a highly effective team with incredible talent locally, but that you can easily convince people who have never even heard of Traverse City to move here. I once remember Tim saying ‘We’ve got to get these kids off the plane,’ – referring to all of the amazing individuals who are from TC or living in TC but who are commuting to work in other places.
What’s next: COVID-19 has created a tremendous amount of opportunity, both in remote care management and for small towns like Traverse City that are hungry for young, talented professionals to return home. I fundamentally believe people are looking for alternatives to big city life and are only held back by the lack of well-paying, high impact job opportunities in STEM fields. We’ll be taking advantage of these opportunities and doubling down on TC over the next year, with the potential to create up to a dozen jobs.
“Imagine you are just 26 years old and are the CTO and co-founder of a Spire Health, a hot, well-funded health tech startup in San Francisco. Bright lights and the big time, right? Well, Ben Yule and his wife, a Traverse City native, purposely left San Francisco behind and moved here to start a family, while still managing his Spire engineering team remotely. This purposeful life change speaks to his value system. Ben’s intellect, work ethic, technology expertise, quick wit and high energy roll up into a first-class digital economy entrepreneur who also happens to be a nice guy.” – Jesse Wolff, advisor, Northern Michigan Angels
Bios compiled by contributing writers Craig Manning and Ross Boissoneau.